Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress

by Robert A. Heinlein
Years ago Robert A. Heinlein was one of my favorite authors and even though this book had been sitting on my shelf for many years I hadn't gotten around to reading it. I finally read it as a book selection for my book club, the first sci fi book ever in its 8 year existence- and I didn't even select it. Published in 1966 it is described as "His classic, Hugo Award winning novel of libertarian revolution." The moon was used as a penal colony by Earth but was also responsible for growing a large percentage of the food consumed by the Earth. The story is of a lunar revolution by a computer, a computer technician, a scholar and an agitator to free its citizens from the control of the Warden and the Lunar Authority.

I must say that I had a very hard time getting into the story at first because of the writing style. For some reason the dialog was not written in complete sentences and the lack of articles or pronouns was hard for me to read. I knew what it was saying it just seemed wrong and took me out of the story. About a 100 pages in however either the author gave up this style or I became engrossed in the story line and failed to notice it any more and from then out I loved it. My favorite character was the self aware computer Mike who was instrumental in the rebellion but also had a fascinating personality. The computer's quest to understand humans, such as his attempts to understand jokes, made for an interesting meditation on what it means to be human. This is a novel of ideas, especially about politics and different forms of societies but the novel also had plenty of suspense and action.

I enjoyed this book but it does not rank up there with some of my favorite Heinlein such as Stranger in a Strange Land, Time Enough for Love, the Cat Who Walked Through Walls, Friday or Job. I was very supprised that my book club's first foray into sci fi was successful and everyone seemed to enjoy it.


Carl V. said...

I need to get back to this at some point. I had the same hard time getting into it because of the language and I ended up setting it aside and going to something else. I like Heinlein though and as this is one of his 'classics' I really should read it and judge it in its entirety.

Moo said...

Carl - Once I got past the odd dialog I did enjoy the book but not as much as some of his others and I am not sure why this is called one of his classics. I look forward to your thoughts on it when you read it.